The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is vital to the stability of your knee, and your knees are essential to your overall mobility.
An injured ACL takes an average of six to nine months to heal. If you’re an athlete, that means the end of your season and perhaps multiple seasons. Whether or not you’re an athlete, you’ll lose your ability to walk or run properly for the better part of a year.
So at JAG Physical Therapy, our first goal is to help you prevent an ACL injury altogether.
As regional experts in physical therapy — and the official physical therapy provider for youth teams and pro teams alike — JAG Physical Therapy offers top-rate injury prevention programs and education. We're here to guide you with the best techniques for your physical activity level, to help you avert knee trauma.
Treatment for ACL Injuries
If an ACL injury does occur, we're here with expert physical therapy for knee repair to help you on your road to recovery. You don't have to just take our word for it, our patients have had great rehabilitation experiences with us.
It’s important to treat any injury as soon as possible to avoid long-term damage, so please read more if you’ve already experienced an ACL injury.
How Can I Protect My ACL from Injury?
More common in athletes, anterior cruciate ligament injuries are typically caused by a sudden or awkward impact on the knee joint.
One example is running and coming to an immediate stop by planting your feet firmly on the ground. Your knee and your ACL act like the brakes of a car, absorbing much of the force it takes to stop your body, which is why sports with frequent stop-and-start motion, like tennis or basketball, leave athletes particularly prone to ACL injuries.
To protect your knees and prevent injuries, it’s crucial to strengthen the proper muscles with the right exercises. For example, your quadriceps and hamstrings help your knee bend and function correctly. Different muscle groups contribute to proper alignment, allowing your body to distribute force and put less strain on your ACL.
More ways to prevent ACL injuries:
- Always warm up before physical activity – While you may want to start playing right away, your body needs to warm up in order to A) perform at its best today and B) stay healthy in the long run.
- Get proper athletic training – From little leagues to pro clubs, athletes must receive adequate training year-round to exercise the correct techniques and avoid sports injuries.
- Practice agility drills – You can condition your knees to withstand sudden movements like full stops, landing, and cutting. We can help you learn how.
- Don't forget about core strength – Along with your hips, a strong core promotes balance and stability, allowing your whole body to work with your knees, instead of forcing your knees to compensate for weakness in other areas.
- Keep your knee posture soft – Avoid locking your knees when playing sports and exercising, and learn how to land softly.
How Do I Strengthen the Muscles that Support My Anterior Cruciate Ligament?
Regular exercise that targets your lower body, hips, and core will help strengthen your ACL. The goal is to tone and stretch your muscles, improving both strength and flexibility.
In addition, it’s essential to find your balance and focus on agility, so you can perform at your best during sports activities. To achieve these goals, our physical therapists will guide you through neuromuscular training, which is all about muscle memory, moving with finesse, and conditioning your lower body to perform without risking injury.
What exercises can prevent an ACL injury?
There are many sports medicine exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles, but not all are effective in preventing ACL injuries. So, your JAG physical therapist will recommend activities that are right for you and your sport or activity.
Well-rounded ACL injury prevention programs will work your entire lower body. Proper technique is crucial, so when you work with a JAG physical therapist, you’ll learn proper form for a range of appropriate exercises, which may include:
- Side plank
- Single leg lifts
- Wall sit
- Knee flexion and extension
- Hip flexors
- Hip Bridges
- Side-to-side running
- Tuck jumps
- High knees
- Ladder drills
To optimize these injury prevention exercises, we’ll help you practice good body alignment and form to keep your knees bent to avoid locking.
A Personalized Approach to ACL Injury Prevention
At JAG PT, we understand how ACL injury prevention applies to different body types, activities, sports, and lifestyles. That's why we take a distinctive approach to address your health challenges.
Your needs are not like those of anyone else, so your JAG physical therapist won't give you the same playbook everyone else is using.
We'll use our expertise in assessing your situation, listen to your goals, and create a personalized plan to get you where you need to be.
Keep Your Knees Healthy Longer
To keep you active, on the field, and living the life you love, we’re here to help you avoid a debilitating knee injury like a torn ACL. Get in touch with our team today to start your treatment with JAG PT's experienced physical therapists and protect the health of your knees.
Focus on the life you love rather than the ACL injury you wish you never had.
To save your ACL from injury, contact us or schedule an appointment with our friendly, knowledgeable team. JAG PT offers expert physical therapy at over 100 locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
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